President Barack Obama’s Interior Department approved a new batch of oil and gas leases in what’s known as the Chaco Canyon National Historical Park in New Mexico. On Monday, former Vice President Joe Biden decided to boycott the new leases as an act of protest.
“I have very mixed feelings about the move,” Biden told ABC News. “Here we are at the end of his administration, and we’re supposed to be working together on the legacy stuff, and there are people in the administration who are using this as an issue to undermine his legacy.”
The former vice president said he had met with people to share his concerns with the new leases. He said they shouldn’t go forward because this could open the floodgates to further drilling in an area considered by many to be unique, beautiful and special.
Former Vice President Joe Biden on stopping new oil & gas development in New Mexico Chaco Canyon. pic.twitter.com/Wi3Iy9h84k — ABC News (@ABC) June 26, 2018
“I just see all sorts of things that happened here in the era when we were in Chaco, that either we aren’t remembering or we’re ignoring,” Biden said.
The most recent lease transactions were finalized in 2015 and 2016, but President Trump signed an executive order on May 24 to turn those leases into more. On Sunday, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez called on Trump to reverse his decision. Martinez made the plea directly to the White House.
New Mexico may be the site of most of the remaining national historical parks, but other national parks are in danger of being lost if Trump’s “ethics are allowed to trickle down and extinguish our national heritage at national parks and on public lands around the country,” the Governors Council on National Parks said in a letter to the White House.
The governor is concerned about Chaco Canyon’s “unique history” and the “national treasure that has made Chaco Canyon a popular site for many visitors to visit.” She called for “common sense and sound science” as well as “a balanced environmental approach” to finding solutions.
“Reaffirming the integrity of this World Heritage Site and preventing the interruption of its endangered native species and fragile ecosystem will ensure that the site is preserved forever,” the governors wrote.